The Spectre On Pike
rating: +21+x

"They don't make Corvettes like they used to."

The neon lights of New Miami, Planet 880 ("Pike's Planet") glimmered around an older woman, as she stood in front of a Corvette Z99. A man waits inside the car.

"Aww, I really thought you would like this kind of old-fashioned thing. People kept giving me weird looks, seeing me drive along the ground and all."

The door folded upwards, and the woman stepped in.

"Did you get this car imported from Earth just for me? What a gross misuse of your salary."

"Anything for you, baby."

"Don't talk to me like that with people around. You don't know who might be listening."

"I checked the car. No bugs. Ready to go?"

"Step on it."

The car squealed along the largely disused roads, the purple sky gleaming off of the sky-cars traveling above them, creating shadows on the ground as they blocked the sun. The car swerved to avoid costumed trick-or-treaters playing in the streets. O5-4 and her secretary were on their way to a meeting.

"Listen to this baby purr. You like it?" her secretary asked.

"A little new for my tastes, Marcus, but I appreciate you trying." O5-4 replied, "You didn't steal this did you?"

"Would I steal something and then take it to the most technologically advanced shadow government among shadow governments?"

"Honestly…"

"I'm offended that you would think that of me! I was going to give you this as a birthday present but I guess if you're going to be elitist about the classics…"

"I don't have a birthday, you're making things up."

Leaving the city, the car took a stop at a small side road, and Marcus tapped a button on the top of the car to open the garage to Site-δ-01. After parking the car, Marcus handed the keys to O5-4.

"Take it. Happy birthday."

"Thank you, honestly. No more affection or any more of your grand gestures, people will see."

O5-4 and Marcus parted ways, as O5-4 entered the meeting.


Marcus took a seat at his desk and sighed.

That car was fucking expensive. Hope it was worth it.

Marcus removed a device from a compartment under his desk, and connected an earbud in the ear that was turned away from the open door.

Can't risk typing any of this. Gotta do this the old fashioned way.

Retrieving a scratchpad from his desk, Marcus began to transcribe what he was hearing.

O5-1: We're all here? Good. Let's get this over with. O5-8, could you please give us a rundown of the situation?

O5-8: Of course. As many of you know already, members of the Universal Council are going to be inspecting us personally in just a few short hours, thus the emergency meeting. Apparently, our little planet is performing… unsatisfactorily to their tastes.

O5-7: Can't say I blame them. Five containment breaches just this week, and it's not even Friday. Maybe they just didn't get the invitation to our spooky corporate costume party and are coming to complain. I hear the entire Universal Council was planning on wearing matching clown outfits and come to us in a tiny skycar!

O5-4: Please, 7, this situation is already difficult enough as it is. Please continue, 8.

O5-8: Thank you. Now, I cannot confirm this, but we believe that UO5-5, UO5-9, and UO5-10 will be coming here within an hour to do an inspection. They will be staying here. As such, all personnel who aren't in this room will be removed from the premises, and a thorough search of the premises is being conducted as we check for items that could endanger the well-being of the council-

O5-3: Can we please just address the elephant in the room? Why are they coming here personally? They are the most powerful people in the universe, don't they have aides to send? What is so important here that they need to come to us themselves?

O5-8: We…-

O5-1: To be frank, we don't know. This is completely unprecedented, but as far as any of us could check, it's completely legitimate. They are coming to us themselves, and I think we have reason to take the utmost caution. Do not overstep your bounds with them. Our lives, and more importantly, our jobs may be at stake. Try not to embarrass us. Meeting adjourned.


Shit…

Marcus removed his earpiece and stowed his notes, just before O5-4 entered her office.

"How did it go?" Marcus inquired.

"Stressful. We need to prepare." O5-4 replied, collapsing in her chair, "Some powerful people are coming here to visit and we're either going to get commended for something we don't even know about, or more likely, about to get reprimanded to hell and back."

"Should… you be telling me about this, ma'am?"

"Don't call me ma'am. And it's fine, it's almost at your clearance. I just need to look through the archives to see what they could possibly want here."

"Would… you like me to get you coffee? The good kind, not the shit Foundation office coffee?"

"That would be nice. Thank you Marcus."

"I need the keys. Y'know, to drive the car? I'll give it back, it's your gift, of course."

"Yes yes, here."

Marcus caught the keys tossed at him, and exited the site. Driving out, he parked a few miles away from the Site, and removed the key. Marcus removed the cover from the key.

The safety lock is still on. Nobody detected the bug. I got away with it.

Marcus collapsed in his seat and started laughing hysterically, before regaining his composure.

I can't push my luck here.

Marcus drove another mile and placed the paper transcript and the bug, removed from the key, under a rock.

Hopefully they pick up the drop box. I don't know how long we have before the Universal Council shows up.

Marcus got back in the car.


"You are now arriving at: Planet Pike. Enjoy your stay, and have a pleasant October!"

The jumpship arrived in the New Miami Private Terminal, and a security detail rushed to greet them. A luxury skycar took the three council members, along with their private security detail, and rushed them towards Site-δ-01. In the distance, a red Corvette drives into another garage shortly before the skycar…


"I got your coffee!" Marcus yells into the office.

"You are a godsend." O5-4 replies, grabbing the coffee from Marcus, "What took you so long?"

"You know how bad the lines are there. They even messed up my name."

"So it would seem. How do you get Magnum from Marcus?"

"You ask nicely."

As O5-4 stifled a rare laugh, she got an alert that the Universal Council has arrived. She quickly shoved Marcus into her panic room.

"I'm sorry, I forgot to say, you can't be here!" she whispers, "Please, I need you to be quiet down here until they leave. There should be provisions down there for you, in the event I can't sneak you out. Please, just don't try to leave by yourself."

Without waiting for a response, O5-4 rushed out to greet the Universal Council.

Good, I timed that right. Now, to wait for the-

Marcus's communicator pinged him.

…signal.

Marcus snuck out of the panic room.


It's almost hard for UO5-10 not to laugh, looking at the ragtag O5 Council before him.

So this is what the Foundation looks like in a backwater trash planet. They're barely keeping their composure.

"Do you have any place more… suitable for a meeting?" UO5-9 asks.

"W-" One council member stutters and clears his throat, "We have a council room that we restructured for this. Please, follow me."

Pathetic.


The halls of Site-δ-01 were silent as Marcus snuck to the security center. A single guard stood in his way. Marcus swiftly got behind him and snapped his neck in one satisfying crack, and stole the man's stun rod and pistol. Waving the ID card at the door, Marcus checked the security room.

Empty. As I thought. They were so paranoid of their staff that they only guarded exits. Pathetic.

Marcus sat at the terminal and unlocked a side garage…


"Please, you can be more comfortable around us, we aren't going to kill you or anything." UO5-5 stated plainly.

"I'm going to get right to the point." UO5-9 interrupted, "We have evidence to suggest that there are several Groups of Interests that are hostile to the Foundation staying unchecked on your planet. These groups are now fairly weak and small, but ideological differences like these are dangerous. We also believe that the recent… deficiencies in how well you contain anomalies is connected to this."

"I see." O5-1 muttered.

"How many anomalies have broken containment and are still loose in the last year or so?" UO5-10 inquired.

"We currently have eight anomalies on the loose, and have not resurfaced at all since their escape." O5-4 submitted. "Thus, we believe they accidentally self-neutralized, most likely due to injuries sustained during their escapes."

"And… you never recovered these bodies?"

"…no, we did not."

Oh boy…


A combat unit enters Site-δ-01. Shedding the costumes they had worn to disguise their intent, they move swiftly and silently, dispatching any guards as they see them. A man named Marcus Austerion meets them. They head to the council room.


"Do you believe that any GoI may have contained your anomal-"

UO5-10 is interrupted by a knock at the door. One of the Universal Council's private guard answers it. An average-looking man stands behind it.

"Marcus!" O5-4 shouts, "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Something is wrong here, all of the guards are gone, this place is a ghost town! What's going on here!"

"Someone get this man out out of here and amnestize him, we need to get on with this." O5-10 commands.

"Wait I'm so sorry, I'll get out of here."

"Grab hi-"

Marcus dropped to the ground as the flashbang he had rolled exploded in a flash of light. A second grenade dropped, and Marcus put on the gas mask he had held behind him.

"Alert! Intruders are attacking the UO5 council, send bac-"

Marcus pistol whipped the guard.

"Nobody is coming, friend. Your ship is disabled and communications have been severed. We're in control now."


O5-4 woke up. The Pike O5 Council and the Universal Council were strapped to their chairs, the council room destroyed and their guards dead on the ground. A gun is trained to each of their foreheads. Marcus personally trained a gun at O5-4.

"Trick or treat! Welcome to the New Universal Order, or so to speak. I'm going to make this brief, we waited until you woke up for the sake of bravado. In short, you'll be working for us now. Don't try to speak, otherwise we will be a little more… rough with the surgery."

"What's your little plan here?" UO5-10 spat, "They'll just replace us. It doesn't matter."

Marcus whipped around and smacked him aside the head with his pistol.

"Told you, you shouldn't have talked. Now, you're clearly alive of course, so that isn't an issue. After a bit of… neuroscience per se, you can just go home. But, luckily for you, my little Pike council, you don't need that kind of surgery. We just kept you alive to have more people to monologue to."

"Marcus, no, please." O5-4 cried.

"Don't fucking talk! How hard is it?"

Marcus retrained the gun on O5-4's forehead.

"Fire!"

The Pike O5 Council slumped in their chairs, blood spattering the wall. A slight flicker of fear flared in the eyes of the Universal Council members.

"Get the anomaly."


The sun rose on the horizon of Pike. The shadows cast by the trees seemed to project a Red Right Hand over Site-δ-01. A ship exits New Miami Private airport, headed for the Universal Council. Marcus smiles, watching it disappear into the great abyss of space.

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